Wilder Aims to Maintain KP’s Field Hockey Success
New Coach a Warriors Assistant in Lacrosse
By Ken Hamwey
Staff Sports Writer
Kaitlyn Wilder is the new varsity field hockey coach at King Philip but it’s not like she’s in unfamiliar territory.
For the last five years, the 27-year-old Wilder has been an assistant coach for the girls lacrosse squad where she’s focused on sharpening the team’s offensive skills. The head lacrosse coach just happens to be Kourtnie Wilder, her sister.
Kaitlyn has a plethora of knowledge about both sports, having played field hockey and lacrosse in high school and college. At Framingham High, Wilder was a two-time captain in field hockey and she also was a captain in lacrosse and ice hockey. A Bay State Conference all-star forward in field hockey and ice hockey, she played attack in lacrosse.
At Plymouth State, the versatile Wilder was a member of the field hockey team as a freshman. That squad won the Little East Conference title and was ECAC champions. A captain in field hockey as a senior, she played for a pair of Little East Champion lacrosse teams as a freshman and senior.
“I was thrilled to be appointed KP’s field hockey coach,’’ Wilder said. “Field hockey and lacrosse are similar. They both focus on possession — field hockey involves more ball control but in lacrosse it’s more about setting the pace. The field hockey girls who played lacrosse at KP urged me to apply for the position. I’m excited to have been selected. I know the KP community and many of the girls from lacrosse.’’ Wilder says she “hopes to be the field hockey coach for the long haul.’’ That would certainly provide the program with some continuity. KP field hockey has been very successful in the recent past but Wilder is the fifth coach in six years. The previous coaches — Liz Hathaway, Lisa Cropper and co-head coaches Kim Meehan and Erin MacDonald — all compiled successful records.
“I want to establish stability in the program, especially for the players,’’ Wilder said. “It’s all about building trust. I want the players to continue to thrive.’’
Wilder, who majored in childhood studies in college, teaches at the Holliston Middle School. Before joining her sister in lacrosse, she was an assistant coach at Framingham State. She still coaches lacrosse at the club level with Gold Star Lacrosse.
Her coaching style in field hockey will be an up-tempo approach. “We want to push the ball up field when the opportunity arises,’’ she said. “And, we’ll rely on our stick skills to control the ball. Crisp passing will also be part of our attack.’’
The goals Wilder has set for the Warriors are not surprising. “I want the girls to improve daily, contend for the Kelly-Rex title and qualify for the tourney. We lost 15 seniors to graduation but the underclassmen will step up and meet the challenges. Our midfielders are experienced but we’ll need to shore up our defense.’’
So far Wilder likes some of the key attributes her team has displayed. “We’re athletic, we have strong leadership, good stick skills, and a good field hockey IQ,’’ she emphasized. “Hopefully, our mental toughness and resiliency will continue to develop.’’
The Warriors’ captains are all quality leaders and their talent is a plus. The captains are seniors Lauren Barriero (midfielder/defender) and Charlotte Raymond (defense) and juniors Mara Boldy (forward) and Kelly Holmes (midfielder).
“Lauren is a four-year veteran who’s strong in transition and gives us a solid presence,’’ said Wilder. “Her stick skills are strong and she’s got lots of passion for the sport. Charlotte is athletic and tenacious on defense. She’s fundamentally sound and very much a vocal leader. She’ll be competing at Babson College next year.
“Mara is athletic, a three-sport athlete (ice hockey and lacrosse). She’s aggressive, agile, has a strong shot and possesses speed and quickness. She’s also relentless, never giving up on a play. Kelly also is athletic, also a three-sport athlete. She controls the midfield, she’s solid in transition and has the ability to score.’’
Senior Haley Bright, who started in goal last year, gives KP a veteran presence at a key position. She also plays goalie for the lacrosse and ice hockey teams, and will play lacrosse at Simmons College next year. “Haley is agile, instinctive and a good communicator,’’ Wilder said. “A hard-worker, she’s improved her technique.’’
Two defenders who’ll be key contributors are junior Bridget King and senior Avery Hayes. “Bridget had a strong pre-season,’’ Wilder noted. “She’s consistent, hits well and also is scrappy and skilled. She’s able to maintain possession and clears effectively. Avery has good speed and stamina. She’s able to cover for and back up her teammates, if needed. Her stick skills are very good.’’
A pair of forwards who should buoy the Warriors’ offense are junior Nikki McDonald and senior Leah Santoro. “Nikki is athletic, has speed and stamina, and will give defenders a lot of trouble. We’re hoping she has a breakout year offensively. Leah also has speed and athleticism. Her stick skills and passing are good and she handles pressure well. We’re hoping she comes into her own as a scorer.’’
Sophomore Abby MacDonald is a key cog because of her versatility. She can play forward, midfield or defense. “Abby’s endurance is terrific, she’s solid in transition and she’s a fierce competitor,’’ Wilder said. “She consistently steps up in key moments.’’
Pointing to Franklin as one of the top teams to win the Kelly-Rex Division, Wilder also puts Attleboro in the mix. “Franklin is so talented and well-coached,’’ she noted. “Attleboro is up-and-coming. Other teams that will be strong include Canton, Foxboro, Oliver Ames and Mansfield.’’
At Local Town Pages deadline, the Warriors had a 2-1 record, defeating Stoughton and Oliver Ames while losing to Franklin.
“Our schedule is challenging but a 2-1 start is a step in the right direction,’’ said Wilder. “The key for us is to persevere and be resilient. “We’re improving daily and maintaining a positive attitude.’’
KP’s field hockey program has built tradition and experienced success. And, it’s very likely that Kaitlyn Wilder will continue to sustain the program’s winning ways.